March 01, 2012

Policing of Green Claims

Mary Ann Mullin and Daniel J. Deeb

Recent years have witnessed the proliferation of green marketing—claims touting a product’s environmental benefits or superiority. Unproven claims of energy efficiency, improved air emissions, “antimicrobial,” “recyclable,” and “sustainable” have left consumers confused and frustrated. In response, a variety of entities, ranging from government agencies, to courts, to private sector entities, have stepped forward to oversee and govern these claims. Although agencies, courts, and private sector retailers have each carved oversight and enforcement roles, they sometimes overlap. While a survey of recent developments on the policing of green claims by agencies and courts illustrates a landscape that is complex and unsettling, efforts by private retailers and group purchasing organizations are helping to clear the way to a common set of standards.

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